I bought these bright and colourful botanical-themed embroidered panels in a little textiles shop near(ish) to the hotel we were put up in in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This shop was full of embroidered textiles, but I honed straight in on the old pieces in various stages of disrepair and ignored the new.
This one is practically neon! Look at the fantastical bird.
At this time last year I was just home from Thailand and dying (at least it felt like I was dying) from jetlag so severe, it still pains me to think about it. Back in Feb I posted a slideshow of dragon fruit images taken at a fruit farm in Rayong, with the promise of more photos from that particular trip. It took me a while to circle back, but here they are.
The first few images in this slideshow are of the tram waiting area where several types of fruit were on display. Once the tram arrived our tour of the farm began with the requisite giant novelty fruit, and a series of appropriately bad, lost in translation jokes made by our tour guide, Mafia Bangkok. That’s him in the bright blue golf shirt (9th photo below), cradling a durian freshly picked off of the tree.
I can’t believe that it’s been almost a year since I went to Thailand. One of the things that struck me while there was the inspired use of floral motifs in all design, whether architectural or fabric. I even saw fruits and vegetables intricately carved to look like flowers. The following pictures were all taken on the first official day of our tour, which began at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Grand doesn’t begin to describe it.
Pitaya, or dragon fruit, is a strange edible that is commonly sold (at a premium) in Asian food markets. The fruit is hot pink on the outside with an edible, white interior flesh that is dotted throughout with tiny, black seeds. The taste is mildly sweet, ever-so-slightly sour, and if I’m being honest, rather bland. Its saving grace are the crunchy seeds as they create a textured sensation that is fun to eat, not unlike a kiwi, but more exotic. I like it fresh and chilled, spooned straight out of that intense fuchsia skin.
The thing that intrigues me most about this fruit is the fact that it is grown on a cactus, and an epiphytic (air plant) one no-less. Hylocereus undatus is a night-blooming, jungle cactus that originated somewhere in the tropics of South America and the Caribbean, but is now most closely associated with South East Asia, where the fruit is grown commercially. Hylocereus is remarkably easy to grow as as houseplant and takes off equally well from seeds or cuttings. I know several gardeners that have successfully grown the seeds harvested from store bought fruit with no special effort or preparation. The plant requires more moisture and nutrition than a typical cactus, but can withstand periods of drought. It takes a tropical climate or a heated greenhouse to grow a plant large enough to produce fruit, but in the right conditions it can be made to produce in cramped quarters or a large pot.
There is a special place in my heart for epiphytic plants, so I was naturally excited about our trip to Thailand last year and the possibility of not just tasting a dragon fruit fresh off of the plant in its local environs, but actually seeing how they are grown for commercial production. As luck would have it, our trip did take us on a fruit farm tour to Suphattra Land in Rayong. Photos of that trip are attached and I will post more this week of some of the other fruit we saw there. I took several film shots as well, but as usual, I am buried in film and haven’t made it that far into the pile.
I wrote a reflections post for 2010, and thought it would be good to end this year in the same way, especially since it gives me the opportunity to revisit some experiences that I did not cover very thoroughly.
[This photo and at top of page] My garden in September 2011.
I started the year with a new D.I.Y grow-light system, more seedlings than I could handle, and a sloping bowling alley of scrubby grass and weeds that I hoped to transform into a garden. As a testament to my stubbornness and determination, I somehow managed (with a lot of help from Davin) to pull it off amidst finishing the editing, photography, and design of my third book, traveling to Thailand, working on a potential TV show, and other deadlines. I was so excited about the space I was out there any chance I could get, often until it go so dark that I couldn’t see anymore. I love having this new garden. It’s the best thing about 2011 and I can’t wait to get back out there in the spring to see what comes of the bulbs and perennial plantings, work on refining the overall layout, and discover a new year of wonders and experiments.
These last few months of the year have been trying and spiritually exhausting. I’m burned out and feel like a shell of my former self. It is for the first time that I find myself really relishing the idea of a year’s end and starting from a renewed and fresh perspective in January. More than ever I hope to walk into the new year feeling revitalized and ready to take on some of the ideas and adventures I’d like to work on in 2012. As you read this post, we are either on our way to or have arrived in the desert, where we will be enjoying some much-needed respite from the cold.
Friends, I’m going to touch, see, and be in the desert soon!!!!!! There aren’t enough exclamation points in the world to express my enthusiasm.